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William Charles Harris (born June 22, 1978 in Cairo, Georgia) is an outfielder and infielder in Major League Baseball for the Washington Nationals. Willie Harris is known for his quick feet and base-stealing abilities, with currently 94 career stolen bases. Harris was formerly a member of the Baltimore Orioles (2001), Chicago White Sox (2002-2005), Boston Red Sox (2006), and Atlanta Braves (2007). He bats left-handed and throws right-handed. He attended Kennesaw State University and lives in Cairo during the offseason. According to Major League Baseball, Willie Harris has a recorded height of 5'9" and weighs 185 pounds .
Versatility and speed are his biggest strengths, as Harris has the ability to play all three outfield positions as well as second base, where he started 28 games in 2005. He started two games at shortstop in 2005. He can also play third base. His most productive season came in 2004, when he posted career-numbers in average (.262), RBI (27), runs (68), hits (107), doubles (15) and at-bats (409). Harris also notched a career high of 19 stolen bases. In 2005, he stole 10 bases in 56 games.
In the 2005 playoffs, Harris went 2-for-2 in the postseason with an RBI, one stolen base, and one run scored. Harris's successful pinch-hit single in Game 4 of the 2005 World Series against the Houston Astros would prove to be decisive after Harris scored on an RBI single by Jermaine Dye. Not only was the run the game-winner, it was the only run which would be scored in the Series-clinching Game 4.
The Boston Red Sox signed Harris to a one-year, split contract. He went to spring training camp as a non-roster invitee, but he was figured to have a strong chance to make the Opening Day roster. On April 20, Harris had his contract purchased by the Boston Red Sox and was added to the 40-man roster. Harris was designated for assignment on July 18. Three days later, he cleared waivers and was assigned to the Pawtucket Red Sox.
The Atlanta Braves and Oakland Athletics completed a trade on April 29, as the Braves sent outfielder Ryan Langerhans to the A’s in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations. To fill Langerhans' spot, Atlanta purchased the contract of Harris from Triple-A Richmond.
Harris went on to have a career year in 2007. He hit near .400 during the month of May and went in to the All-Star Break with a .342 average. He led the team with 17 stolen bases. On June 30, Willie Harris tied a career personal record with 3 stolen bases in a 6-5 win over the Marlins. He posted a remarkable night on July 21: In a 14-6 rout of the St. Louis Cardinals, Harris went 6-for-6 with four singles, two triples, six RBI, four runs scored, and a stolen base. He became just the second player in Atlanta history and the seventh in franchise history to have six hits in a game. But Harris' numbers in the second half of the season dropped precipitously. He had a .214 average, a .294 on base percentage, and a .354 slugging average after the all-star break.
On August 9, the Braves were beating the NL East-leading New York Mets 7-3 entering the bottom of the 9th at Shea Stadium. After Braves reliever Tyler Yates yielded three runs to bring the Mets within one, Óscar Villarreal came on to pitch. The first hitter he faced, first baseman Carlos Delgado, hit what appeared to be a solo home run to make it a tie game. Harris ranged back in left field, stopped just before the wall and jumped, robbing the home run and preserving the lead.
Harris was designated for assignment on December 4, 2007. Harris was not offered a new contract by the Braves and became a free agent on December 12, 2007.
On December 13, 2007, he signed with the Washington Nationals. He proved an effective insurance policy, playing second base, third base, shortstop and all three outfield positions over the course of the season. He was known for playing stellar defense, and made several outstanding athletic catches in the outfield. On August 22, 2008, Willie hit his eleventh and twelfth home runs of the year, including his first career grand slam that gave the Nationals a 6-4 lead. He also hit a 2-run home run, collected 6 RBI to give him 38 for the season, scored 3 times, and stole a base in the Nationals' 13 to 5 win against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. Harris finished the season with 13 home runs, six more than he hit in the previous seven years of his career combined.
During the 2008-2009 offseason, he signed a two-year contract with the Nationals, worth 3 million dollars(1.5 million per season). On April 13, 2009, Willie Harris was placed on the 15-day disabled list for a left oblique strain.
- Career statistics and player information from MLB, or ESPN, or Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube